Posted by: atowhee | September 2, 2015


Our smallest American swift is on the move and its reputation in the west is spreading…exciting, free entrertainment.  Performances each evening in numerous venues including Portland, Eugene, Roseburg, San Rafael…and Selleck, WA.  Click here for story from tiny town Selleck.

Posted by: atowhee | September 2, 2015


Saw plenty of shorebirds along an actual shore this morning.  It is often true you see Killdeer in a parking lot, Curlew or Willet in a pasture, or even sagebrush, phalarope on the ocean, Black Oystercatchers on a sea stack…but today shorebirds were all ashore as I led a Golden Gate Audubon Filed Trip along the edge of the Albany (CA) mudflats.  There was an even dozen species present on just a few acres of mudflat at low tide.

bbp1These first two images show a truly black bellied Black-bellied Plover.  Most arriving migrants of this species have already molted out of this bright breeding plumage. bbp2Black Oystercatcher. bloy cu (1280x960) bloy cu2 (1280x960) bloy on shor (1280x960)Eight-foot tall goddess of mud. goddess of mudOne of two Osprey fishing in the Bay. osp-albany (1280x960)

Albany Mudflats, Alameda, California, US
Sep 2, 2015 8:00 AM – 11:00 AM
Protocol: Traveling
1.5 mile(s)
42 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  25
Gadwall (Anas strepera)  1
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  30
Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)  12
Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca)  20
Greater Scaup (Aythya marila)  8
Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis)  1
Western Grebe (Aechmophorus occidentalis)  1
Clark’s Grebe (Aechmophorus clarkii)  7
Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)  1
Pelagic Cormorant (Phalacrocorax pelagicus)  1
Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)  1
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)  2
Snowy Egret (Egretta thula)  5
Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)  1
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)  1
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)  2

Black Oystercatcher
American Avocet (Recurvirostra americana)  40
Black-bellied Plover (Pluvialis squatarola)  30
Semipalmated Plover (Charadrius semipalmatus)  10
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)  6
Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca)  2, Spotted Sandpiper
Willet (Tringa semipalmata)  50
Long-billed Curlew (Numenius americanus)  20
Marbled Godwit (Limosa fedoa)  20
Western Sandpiper (Calidris mauri)  15
Short-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus griseus)  2
Common Murre (Uria aalge)  1
Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis)  1
Western Gull (Larus occidentalis)  60
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)  1
Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna)  6
Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon)  1
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  25
Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos)  1
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  1
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  1
California Towhee (Melozone crissalis)  4
House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)  100
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)  40

Posted by: atowhee | August 31, 2015


I drove the Pacific Coast from Lincoln City to Eureka today.  Highlight was five Marbled Murrelets off Boile Bay…few shorebirds of any kind anywhere.  Best gull assortment at Crescent City.  Too much time on the road for any serious birding…400+ miles.BP ISLE (1280x960) pela-rok WESA--3 (1280x960)The pelican islet and Western Sandpipers were at Crescent City.  The rock face with clinging Pelagic Cormorants was at Yaquina Head, OR.

Posted by: atowhee | August 30, 2015


The calendar is once again out of sync with nature’s yearly cycles.  Sure, shorebirds are largely summer migrants in the Northern Hemisphere.  But today arokund McMinnville I was seeing flocks of Barn and Tree Swallows (not mixed together) hawking insects and presumably working their way south.  Tree Swallows normally hunt higher in the air than Barn Swallows who are comfortable cruising just above the grass or crop top.

Posted by: atowhee | August 29, 2015


CURIOUS  IN GREEN  PEEK PEEK2 SHLDR TAILHIGH HUMRP2510996 (1280x960)Walnut season in squirrel-world. WALNUT

A drizzle Thursday, then an intense though brief real rain last night…maybe more to come.  Wind today as well.  Maybe a few more feet of wet shoreline for the migrating shorebirds who;ve had a hard time finding habitat this year.  Wetlands are direly shrunken hereabouts.

Posted by: atowhee | August 26, 2015


I was in Rotary Park again mid-morning.  I missed the dawn because I had too many errands to get done.  So the day had settled into the expected late summer quietude.  A few raucous warning shots from the local Steller’s Jays.  Half a whinny from some treetop Robin. The Chestnut-backed Chickadees and an inkling of Bushtits coursed through the trees, soundless.  The only sound from two different Anna’s Hummingbirds was a little wing buzzing during acceleration…their version of laying rubber in a hotrod.  First a few honks from a White-breasted Nuthatch with long rests in between; then a far-off set of triplets from a Red-breasted version.  Some ill-tempered-sounding snarls from a Spotted Towhee–heard but not seen. A female Flicker gave me a looking over and few sharp “clear” calls.  Her drumming was very soft, for food not territorial messaging. Then a series of rough-edged downward slurring calls,  each the same. Memorable only because the series ran past a dozen individual calls.  Then I saw the bird, a juvenile Hutton’s Vireo.  Saddled with the usual competitive handicaps of vireos in a warbler’s world, none of the vireos are wildly successful like the Robin or Mourning Dove.  While the Red-eyed at least is widespread in American forests, the Hutton’s is confined to only low elevation woods of a certain type in the west. Badly beset by invasive cowbirds the Hutton’s Vireo is nowhere abundant and has disappeared from parts of its former range. At least this youngster does not have to migrate this fall as do most other vireo species.  And his monotonous call is a enlightening field trait, alerting a birder to watch for motion in the trees.

McMinnville Rotary Park (Tice Park), Yamhill, Oregon, US
Aug 26, 2015 9:45 AM – 10:20 AM.  10 species

Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna)  2
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  1
Hutton’s Vireo (Vireo huttoni)  1
Steller’s Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri)  2
Western Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  1
Chestnut-backed Chickadee (Poecile rufescens)  4
Bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus)  1
Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis)  1
White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)  1
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  1

Posted by: atowhee | August 26, 2015


This video of a Canadian humpback doing an aerial flip is must-see.

Posted by: atowhee | August 23, 2015


There’s an opsrey essay, hence ossay, in today’s Times.  Click here for an enjoyable read, and reminder that some government regulations are needed to keep our fellow man from totally trashing this planet.P2510111 (1280x960)OspLook--hf Osprey dines

So when are we gonna ban all forms of D-Con, the great predator killer?

Posted by: atowhee | August 23, 2015


Willamette Valley native and ace birder,, Noah Strycker, now has nearly 4000 species seen this year…his global goal is to see at least 5000 species…that’s over half of all known species on the planet. Most birders do not see that many species in a lifetime.

That’s a really BIG Big Year.  It’ll be a great book and could be a beautiful movie…

Posted by: atowhee | August 22, 2015


UPDATE: August 26 another hiker told me she’d just seen the young, white fawn.  Here’s an email from Rick Hargrave of the Oregon DFW: “Thank you for sharing the photos of the deer.  The fawn is referred to as a piebald fawn. It looks pretty healthy, which is good because typically piebald fawns are born with a number of deformities.  I hope they continue on their way into the wild!”WFAWN1 WFAWN2 WFAWN3 WFAWN5 WFAWN6 WFAWN7 WFAWN8 WFAWN9The woods were quiet this morning as I listened carefully for any bird sound.  Ahead of me a sudden flash of white got my attention. I quickly stepped behind a tree where my shape wouldn’t show.  Coming toward me the doe approached in the lead, followed by her nearly-all-white fawn.  A pair of hikers a few days had told they’d seen a white fawn in this woodland.

Later I circled back around and watched the pair head down the trail away from me.  I will share the location if you want photos.  Don’t invite any bow-toting dentists from Minnesota, please.  I see beauty while some men will see “trophy.”

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